St. John’s UCC Virtual Service – January 17, 2021

Join us for a virtual service at St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio on January 17, 2021.

Click here to watch –

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Bulletin for Sunday, January 17, 2021



223 West College Avenue, Bluffton, OH   45817

January 17, 2021

Rev. Katherine Beckett (567-226-1009)  Church (419-358-5641)



Organ Prelude     “Community of Christ”           P. 615

Welcome and Announcements

Song of Preparation              “God is Holding Your Life”+

Opening Prayer*

One:   Healing God,

You are working to bind up the wounds of the world.

Open us this day to be your hands and your feet to bring about unity of your people, so that we might make a difference right where we are, contributing to your reign on earth as it is in heaven.

Many: We praise you for your strength to persevere, holding us in unity through your love.  Amen.

Bluffton Area Ministerial Association Shared Worship Video for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Introduction:  Reverend Karol Farris Schilling,

Bluffton Presbyterian Church

Scripture:  John 15:1-17

Reverend Wanda Stopher, First Mennonite Church

Message on the unity of the whole person

Reverend Wanda Stopher


Reverend Katherine Beckett, St. John’s UCC

Scripture:  1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Pastor Bob Clinger, First United Methodist Church

Message on the visible unity of Christians

Reverend Bob Clinger


Reverend Kevin Mohr, English Lutheran Church

Scripture:  Revelation 7:9-12

Reverend Karol Farris Schilling

Message on the unity of all peoples and all creation

            Reverend Karol Farris Schilling


            Father John McLoughlin, St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Musical Offering by Bluffton Presbyterian Church Musicians

Call to Prayer and Blessing

            Reverend Jeremy Mann, Emmanuel UCC

Selah Moment*

Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer

One:   Let the people say, Selah!

Many: Selah!

Passing of the Peace

Closing Hymn         “They’ll Know We Are Christians”                P. 595


Chimes and Organ Recessional    “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”            P. 393


*provided by Worship Design Studio.  Used with permission.

+ lyrics composed by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan.  Used with permission.

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Follow Me (Ecumenical Sunday) Mark 1:14-20

Last summer, the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota galvanized the nation and sparked urgent protests in many cities. Although the Black Lives Matter movement was not new, it was newly urgent for many as marchers took to the streets, chanting, “Say their names” and “No justice, no peace.” For the first time for many Americans, our eyes were lifted to the role of policing in our communities.

Calls for change in policing include plans to shift financing to other social services and methods of protection. Activists invited us to imagine a 911 call resulting in response by the right person to help with a social service or mental health need. Those who called for changes in policing noted how seldom police are able to interrupt crimes in progress, and how inefficient the bureaucracy of policing has become. They drew a line from modern police forces back to slave times, when police forces were established to control enslaved African Americans.

It can be very hard to imagine a new way of organizing ourselves and our society. Even though modern policing is a relatively new idea, it can seem as if things were “always this way.”

When the men who became the disciples were called by Jesus to follow him, they could not imagine any other way of living. Their fathers and grandfathers and all the many generations before had been fishermen. Everyone they knew in their villages were fishermen. Yet, Christ called them to imagine something completely new. And once they did, they initiated a way of life that literally changed the world.

We are a resurrection people. This means that as Christians we understand as the most important tenet of our faith that something old must pass away in order for something new to be born. With the introduction of a movement to change policing, we have a unique opportunity to see our resurrection belief transformed from theological idea to lived reality.

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Known and Loved (Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18)

*O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

My God, you see and understand all that I am.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.

You know even my most hidden thoughts.

You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

When I work, when I sleep, you are with me.

Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.

When I speak, you know what I’m going to say before I do.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

You are everywhere, even right here with me!

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

I cannot imagine how you think or feel or create. You are so vast.

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

And yet, you are close by, too. Always giving birth, always making new.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

You even made this sacred body that I call home.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

You know how I was made because you made me!

In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

You write the past, you sculpt the future.

How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

I cannot weigh or measure you, God,

I try to count them–they are more than the sand; I come to the end–I am still with you.

I only know that wherever I am, you are too. And that is enough.

*Italics from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

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Christian Unity Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday, January 17, 2021, St. John’s UCC joins the Bluffton Area Ministerial Association in a joint service of Christian unity. Please worship with us at 10:30 a.m. on January 17.

The combined video includes local pastors and church musicians as well as St. John’s own worship format. The video may be viewed on St. John’s Facebook page and YouTube.

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Think About This

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and the princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flocks,

The work of Christmas begins:

–To find the lost,

–To heal the broken,

–To feed the hungry,

–To release the prisoner,

–To rebuild the nations,

–To bring peace among brothers,

–To make music in the heart.

—-Howard Thurman

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The Season of Epiphany 2021: God Is Holding Our Lives

As we settle into 2021, we are dealing with many of the same issues we carried over from 2020.  January is also a tough month for a lot of people.  The days can be cold and dreary.  The added necessity to continue social distancing does not help.  Our daily lives can go from disappointment to helplessness to gratitude all over a span of a few hours

The Book of Psalms is filled with poetry and prayers of the ancient people.  The poems and prayers were written over a period of time spanning from the exile and isolation to the rebuilding of the community.  This season of Epiphany, which goes through February 14th, we will be looking at different psalms that focus around the theme, “God is Holding Our Lives”. 

During this season, being more intentional about our prayer life and how God is holding us may help us find the comfort, peace, and assurance we need for these challenging times.  Your star words can help you with this. 

I invite you to write down your prayers and place them in a bowl or a box or a basket, something that can hold them, which is set aside for prayer.  The writings do not need to be long, a few words or even a blank piece of paper with your prayer impressed upon it is all God needs. Your star word may be a part of this practice.

When we hold one another in prayer, we are co-creating with God a holy space filled with love and grace and where acceptance for what is can be found.  God is holding our lives.

Pastor Katherine

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Long-Awaited Gift (Luke 2:22-40)

A Litany

Holy One,

Like Anna and Simeon, we have waited.

And, like Anna and Simeon we rejoice now at the young ones who have appeared.

In an age of climate change, the seas rise along with the temperature. While her elders posture to protect resources, or argue about who is at fault, a single young woman dares to speak truth to power. As our youth are empowered, empower us at all ages to listen and then to act.

We give thanks for the energy, vitality, and leadership of the youth in our church, community, and world. Like Anna and Simeon, we rejoice!

The scourge of gun violence has affected no group so horribly as the young. Children who cannot yet read know how to hide in the event of an active shooter in their classrooms. And so, it is the young who lead the way in calling for reasonable gun controls and an end to gun violence.

We give thanks for the energy, vitality, and leadership of the youth in our church, community, and world. Like Anna and Simeon, we rejoice!

The cries of Black Lives Matter that has spilled from hearts into the streets is a rallying cry that gives voice to generations of oppression and violence. As the youth lead the way in making the social change that must come, help us to uplift their leadership. Give us the grace to get behind them, instead of standing in their way.

We give thanks for the energy, vitality, and leadershp of the youth in our church, community, and world. Like Anna and Simeon, we rejoice!

(Lift up the gifts of local youth who have shown energy, vitality, and leadership in calling for social change and justice in Christ’s name.)

We give thanks for the energy, vitality, and leadership of the youth in our church, community, and world. Like Anna and Simeon, we rejoice! Amen.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

St.John’s UCC will be closed to in-house worship from Sunday, November 29 through the end of February 2021.  You may listen to, and view, our weekly online service by accessing our web page and Facebook page: and by accessing YouTube.


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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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